“In aftermath of Paul George’s departure, OKC star Russell Westbrook is welcoming to idea of Sam Presti engineering a trade that would bring an end to his illustrious 11-year Thunder tenure.” – per Woj
Oklahoma City shocked the basketball world Sunday by trading MVP and DPOY candidate Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-setting number of draft picks. Following this trade, they are now fielding offers for their 2016-2017 MVP and 8x all-star point guard in an effort to jump-start their rebuild with great young talent and a series of draft picks.
Now the question stands: Where will Russell Westbrook play basketball next season?
Here are the 5 best landing spots for the superstar guard, taking into consideration how realistic they are, and how the fit would be…
5) Orlando Magic
While Orlando may not be anywhere near the top of Westbrook’s list of preferred destinations, the fact of the matter is that he really has no say in it. He was not granted a no-trade clause as a part of the 5 year, $205M “super-max” contract extension agreed upon with OKC back in 2017, so they can trade him anywhere they see fit.
Orlando needs a point guard and has needed one for a number of years now, they have lacked any sort of “star-power” since the Dwight Howard days, and have generated one of the lowest amount of ticket sales this past season, selling more than only the Hawks and Cavaliers.
The acquisition of Russell Westbrook would solve all of these issues. To land the superstar point guard, Orlando would have to give up quite the package of young talent and draft-picks. However, they have enough to make it happen with players like Aaron Gordon, Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, and there most recent draftee: 2019 #16 pick Chuma Okeke.
With Orlando being an unlikely destination for any superstar player in free agency, this is the best chance they’ve seen in a while to attain one of the leagues best. By adding a guy like Westbrook you are not guaranteed a championship. You are not guaranteed a conference finals. What you are guaranteed however, is a guy who gives nothing less than 110 percent, 100 percent of the time. You will have the most high-energy guy on the court every night you play, and the ability to assure your fans of one hell of a show every night. Ticket sales are guaranteed to skyrocket with a guy like this on the team. You’ll see Westbrook jerseys everywhere in Florida.
4) Minnesota Timberwolves
A trade package from the Wolves would likely be centered around Andrew Wiggins and a bevy of first-round draft picks.
This would leave Minnesota with a duo of Westbrook and 23 year old all-star C Karl-Anthony Towns.
Looking at Kawhi and Paul George on the Clippers, LeBron and AD on the Lakers, Harden and CP3 in Houston, Dame Lillard and McCollum in Portland, Jokic and Murray in Denver, Steph and D-Lo in the Bay, and DeRozan & Aldridge in San Antonio, it is clear that the Western Conference is now ran by Superstar duos. A duo consisting of Russell Westbrook and Karl-Anthony Towns would be one to recon with, and for a Minnesota franchise that has made the post-season once in the past 15 years, a superstar duo unlike one they have ever had before may be exactly what they need to build toward and sustain a successful future.
3) Detroit Pistons
For Detroit it is as simple as this.
You are not going to land any sort of star free agent any time soon. Your best player is an aging 30 year old Blake Griffin. You have made the playoffs twice in the past 10 years and each of those times, have gotten obliterated out of the first round. You need talent on a roster that outside of Griffin and his front-court mate Andre Drummond, simply lacks any.
In the games Blake Griffin played for the pistons this past season, he put up a career-high 24.5 ppg, to go along with 7.5 rpg and 5.4 apg. And before his season-ending injury in game 72 of the season, he was revitalizing his career in-front of our very eyes, proving to everyone once again why he is one of the leagues best bigs.
The problem for Detroit is that without their all-star forward at 100%, which has now become a rare sight in recent years for the seemingly always injured Griffin, they can not seem to win games.
Pairing Griffin and Westbrook would be a dream come true for Detroit. This is a duo strong enough to almost guarantee a playoff birth in a weaker eastern-conference, and one that when fully healthy and engaged, may just be dynamic enough to win you a playoff series or two. There would need to be some fine tuning for sure: adding shooters around the two would be a must, as 3-point shooting isn’t particularly a strong-suit for either of the two all-stars. However, compared to the snooze-fest that has been Detroit basketball as of recent years with Reggie Jackson at the helm of things, a show starring a Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin would be quite the upgrade.
As for Oklahoma City, you would likely receive a package containing up-and-coming 2 guard Luke Kennard, who put up just under 10 ppg this past season on 40% from 3, the #15 pick in the draft Sekou Doumbouya, and as many draft picks as Detroit has to offer.
While their offer may not be strong enough to out-bid some other teams with interest in Westbrook, the move just makes too much sense for Detroit to not include them on this list. If they can get it done, they will.
2) San-Antonio Spurs
The San-Antonio Spurs, the team that nobody is talking about in the Russell Westbrook sweepstakes. Why? Why is nobody talking about what seems like the PERFECT fit for the triple-double machine?
Putting a guy like Westbrook under a coach like Greg Popovich would be nothing less than incredible. People like to criticize Westbrook for his high turnover rate, poor shooting percentages, an inability to play well with others. However has it ever occurred to anyone that the best coach he has ever gotten to play under is Scott Brooks?
Under the greatest NBA coach of all time in Popovich, Westbrook would thrive. He would be used in ways he never even thought possible, and put into a system in which the game would come to him easier than ever.
These are the names of the point guards Popovich has had at the helm of his Spurs over the last year. Replace those names with Russell Westbrook, coach Pop would do wonders.
If your San-Antonio your looking at the Western conference today, and you see a clear 7 teams better than you. You see no road to a successful playoff run, and you see a clear need for change. Pairing Westbrook with a guy like DeMar DeRozan and/or LaMarcus Aldridge would be something special, something unlike Popovich has ever had before.
With the ability to put together a package of young talent such as Lonnie Walker V, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Bryn Forbes, Keldon Johnson from Kentucky, and 2019 #19 pick Luka Šamanić, San Antonio can offer Oklahoma City one of the more intriguing offers they will receive.
It makes perfect sense for all 3 sides involved.
The Spurs would increase the talent on the roster and give themselves an significantly better chance of making noise in the Western Conference.
The Thunder would receive a great young group of talent in return, one of the better packages they will be offered.
And us, the fans, would get to see what Popovich will do with the explosive superstar that is Russell Westbrook under his wing.
Westbrook and Popovich… how much more fun does it get?
1) Miami Heat
“The Miami Heat have expressed interest, a potential destination that also appeals to Westbrook, league sources said.
Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, have been discussing trade possibilities and scenarios with Presti, and the sides are both motivated to find a resolution sooner rather than later, league sources told ESPN.” – per Woj
The Miami Heat, South Beach, who wouldn’t wanna play here? In a place with some of the nicest beaches in the world, some of the best weather on the East Coast, and no state income tax, it makes perfect sense why Westbrook and his camp have made it abundantly clear this is a place he desires.
Basketball wise, for Miami, this makes perfect sense.
President of basketball operations Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra have created a culture in the Heat franchise perfect for a guy like Westbrook. It is known around the league that playing under Riley and Spoelstra, you are expected to go 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. You are expected to win or lose, be the hardest playing team every night you step on the floor. Because as a member of the Miami Heat, you know that if you go down, your gonna go down fighting… fighting real damn hard at that.
Sounds like the perfect place for Russell Westbrook.
Miami has recently agreed to sign all-star guard Jimmy Butler to a 4-year, $142M max contract in a sign-and-trade deal with the 76ers. Butler is known around the association as a blue-collar athlete. The type of guy who puts nothing less than his all into everything he does, and is willing to do whatever it takes to win. The type of guy to hold everyone around him accountable if not playing just as hard as he, every second of every day.
We all saw what happened in Minnesota just 2 seasons ago.
“I think the culture that this organization is about, obviously the players that they have, the players they have had in the past, it fits who i am, what I’m about, how I think, how I go about what I go about every day,” Butler said of what drew him to Miami.
This is the perfect type of guy to pair with Russell Westbrook, in a place where the culture suits them both unbelievably well.
Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler in Miami seems like a dream come true.
However, one problem stands in the way of this dream-like relationship becoming a reality.
Miami has almost no first round picks to offer Oklahoma City in a potential trade. As their 2021 and 2023 first round picks are owned by… wait for it…
The Oklahoma City Thunder.
By hypothetically trading Westbrook to Miami, OKC is hurting the value of both Miami first-round picks they received from the Clippers in the Paul George trade earlier this week. By making Miami better, you are making those picks worse.
Oklahoma City may look past this. They may look past this and see a guy who has put his heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into their franchise for the past 11 years, and grant him the opportunity to be somewhere he clearly desires to play, in a culture and with players he clearly fits so well in.
Miami can put together a decent package with guys such as Justice Winslow, Bam Adebayo, Dion Waiters, Goran Dragić, and 2019 #13 pick, Kentucky sharpshooter Tyler Herro available to trade.
Westbrook to Miami makes perfect sense for the Heat. But are the Thunder willing to send arguably the greatest player in their franchise history to a team whose draft picks they own in the coming years?
Only time will tell…
– By Zack Weiss